ARYEH SIVAN

translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut

CHILDREN'S SONG *

If I had a pianist wife *

ALREADY IN FEBRUARY *

SUMMER'S END *

TEL AVIV *

 

CHILDREN'S SONG

Men arose on these sands of the shore,

built houses, and in the houses

brought forth children. They called them

to come to rest

The barefoot children on the soft sand- -

the sea passes by them like blue-silver lining

and the winds weave summer webs of their hair.

The children grew, went to the wars

returned to their homes on the sand tiny- -

three by five inches, eight by

eleven. Now,

everyone rests. Wherever they lay

they rest. Only the houses

don't rest. They develop

very nicely: into

skyscrapers, fifteen, even twenty- -

Slender-shaped are they and tall

and the windows break

the sun to shreds.

*****************************

If I had a pianist wife

 

If I had a pianist wife

I would lie in a booth of vines

wrap myself in a sheet and say

play dirges for me woman.

What an out of this world joy:

On one hand the out of this world silence

on the other the hands of my wife on the white keys

casting sweetness over me, that she needs me not.

**********************

 

ALREADY IN FEBRUARY

A guide for the tourist.

I told you that this season, October

is the best season here

in the southern corner of the Mediterranean

The lemon season. This is

the lemon season

The summer grapes were crushed to the vintner's cellars

and the moon of Heshvan illuminates like the sun

in the clear sky. There is no fall.

Leaves do not fall.

New fruits

ask to be formed.

Take your time

In your eyes, press figs

In your home, gird

your loins

But direct your steps away from black tar

the top layer on the roads -

And like the Indian, tune your ear

At the junction of dirt roads, be

a lemon scout, perhaps

you'll manage to discover again, for me

the way up to lemon country.

I remember that place vaguely:

old small houses over the sand

between firs straight as day, where

the lemon tree still suckles from the earth

dear water.

*************************

SUMMER'S END

No dust on the leaves in your land:

There are flowers the rain washes

the whole year long.

There - none of that dry, bitter smell -

the smell of truth.

If you should want to breathe it, I suggest you come to us.

Cover your face with fig leaves

that have gathered dust

all the long summer.

True, fig leaves are rough like sand-paper

so they can hoard the little water they rescued from the abyss

to make their fruit

sweet small fibs

to divert the world from interfering

as they collect the bitter dust.

This is the dust that in the past

was a bird or people or mighty empires

or a mirage in the desert

but now, and from now on

will not have a face to put on.

**********************8

 

TEL AVIV

If only there were a well in Tel Aviv

with a blinkered mule or donkey

walking around it to draw water,

I would compare myself to that mule or donkey,

turning on the axis of the city

(where I was born, and where my eyes

first opened), turning since then

and drawing sea water from insignificant depths

(sea water from the womb of the

transparent sands, spread out

under the sky, catching the blue) and pumping

in the streets that led my feet

(those streets known to me blindfold)

like a heart pumping blood, knowing

that it will most surely return

in the course of time.